By Leslie Hynes, South County Fire and Resuce Public Information Officer.
The county’s largest fire department is asking the Snohomish County Council to adopt a ban on the sale and discharge of fireworks.
The South County Fire commissioners unanimously approved a resolution in support of a county-wide fireworks ban at a board meeting earlier this month. The resolution also encourages other fire districts to adopt similar resolutions.
South County Fire officials plan to deliver their resolution at the County Council meeting at 9:00 am on Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Henry M. Jackson Board Room, Eighth Floor, Robert J. Drewel Building (Administration Building East), 3000 Rockefeller, Everett.
“We encourage citizens to join us at this meeting to voice support for a ban,” said Board Chair Jim Kenny.
South County Fire serves more than 250,000 residents in southwest Snohomish County, including the cities of Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace. These cities already have bans in place, but discharge of fireworks remains legal on July 4th in South County Fire’s unincorporated service area.
“Fireworks put people and property at risk in our area every July 4th. This is predictable, but it’s also preventable,” Kenny said.
Fireworks have been responsible for a total of more than $3.7 million in property loss in the South County Fire service area since 2005, displacing 15 households from homes and apartments.
“We know fireworks bans can effectively reduce injuries, property damage and call volumes. We’ve seen this firsthand in the cities we serve where bans are already in place,” said Fire Chief Bruce Stedman.
He said 911 call volumes more than double on July 4 in unincorporated south Snohomish County. To handle the heavy call load expected this July 4th, additional firefighters will be on duty to supplement South County Fire’s regular 24-hour staffing at 14 neighborhood fire stations.
Fire officials in the densely populated urban communities served by South County Fire have been asking for a county-wide ban for more than 10 years to no avail. Two years ago, the County Council adopted an ordinance that allows citizens to petition for a neighborhood fireworks ban, but that has yet to occur.
“While this was a step in the right direction, we continue to support a county-wide ban. Every year we hear from people who tell us they’re afraid to leave their homes on July 4 because of all the fireworks going off in their neighborhoods,” Kenny said. “A ban would restore their sense of security, reduce injuries and cut property losses.”
He noted the ban would apply only to private fireworks use and would still allow for professional displays.
“Those who think it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks could attend a public display put on by trained professionals,” Kenny said. “That’s the safest way to enjoy fireworks.”